A joint fact-finding panel between the Filipino National Bureau of Investigation and Department of Justice has recommended that charges be filed against Japanese gambling magnate Kazuo Okada, as well as more than 25 other individuals and 10 “juridical entities” in relation to the operation of Okada’s casino property in the Philippines.
The charges stem from the Philippines’ Anti-Dummy Law, which prevents businesses and individuals from setting up “dummy corporations” in order to skirt Filipino law. According to the panel, Okada and others – including nine other Japanese individuals and 17 Filipinos – violated these laws to make it appear that the Filipino interest in Pagcor Entertainment City was much higher than it was in reality.
The multibillion dollar gambling center was one of four that were opened in Manila Bay. Okada’s firm, Universal Entertainment, received a license to operate a casino there. However, that license was subject to the Public Land Act, which required that the casino must be 60 percent Filipino-owned.
According to the fact-finding panel, the reality of the situation is that the casino does not meet that requirement. Many of the companies that are part of the Pagcor ownership group – and that are supposedly owned by Filipino individuals – are actually dummy corporations that lead back to Universal Entertainment; a clear violation of the law.
Possible Bribery Investigation
This is not the first time that Okada and Universal have come under the microscope over this project. In fact, this investigation wasn’t originally looking for dummy corporations: rather, it was centered on existing allegations that Okada may have received his license due to a multimillion dollar bribe to an official at the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation.
That charge was also investigated by American officials after Las Vegas casino developer Steve Wynn – a former partner of Okada – backed out of his relationship with Universal Entertainment. As of yet, neither American nor Filipino officials have found enough evidence to charge anyone in connection with the bribery allegations.
And no charges have yet been filed against Okada or any of the other suspected suspects in the dummy corporation case, either. However, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has said that she will speak to President Benigno Aquino III in order to discuss the findings of the investigation and what further steps should be taken.